local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 classifieds
 calendar

 last week

 recreation
 subscriptions
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 homefinder
 sv catalogs
 hemingway
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


For the week of October 15 - 21, 2003

News

Enviro groups may
appeal East Fork
grazing decision


"I think itís inevitable that grazing will be eliminated in that area, and I think weíd like to see it sooner rather than later."

ó JON MARVEL, Executive Director, Western Watersheds Project


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

One of the Westís leading public lands conservationists said this week his group will appeal a recent U.S. Forest Service decision that establishes new public lands grazing guidelines in the East Fork of the Salmon River valley on the eastern slope of the White Cloud Mountains.

JON MARVEL

"As anyone can tell from reading the record of decision, a lot of political pressure was brought to bear on (former Sawtooth National Recreation Area ranger) Deb Cooper, and it has resulted in this unfortunate decision," said Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project based in Hailey. "I would anticipate that our group will appeal this decision."

The Boulder White Clouds Council, another nonprofit conservation group, plans to join the appeal, said Lynne Stone, the groupís executive director.

Following the publishing of a record of decision in the Challis Messenger newspaper on Oct. 9, a 45-day appeal period commenced.

In the meantime, "weíll be cataloguing the problems with this decision," Marvel said.

If or when itís appealed, the issue will go before Intermountain Region Forester Jack Troyer. Marvel said that if Troyer upholds Cooperís decision, the conservation groups would probably take the issue to court.

"We believe the decision doesnít comply with the forest plan or the National Forest Management Act or the Endangered Species Act," Marvel said.

The Upper and Lower East Fork Cattle and Horse Allotment Management Plans final environmental study appears to reach a compromise position between proposed curtailment of grazing in the area and the status quo, which was deemed to be damaging to natural resources and recreation opportunities.

In March, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft environmental impact statement that proposed to reduce the size and scope of the two grazing allotments by roughly half.

The final decision, made by Cooper before her departure for Alaska two weeks ago, will temporarily reduce livestock grazing in selected areas to allow the land and flora to recuperate. When specified resource conditions are met, livestock use will be allowed to resume at levels slightly higher than in the last three years.

Additionally, the decision provides for construction of 15 miles of fencing, at a cost Marvel estimates will be $150,000, in order to keep cattle out of sensitive areas.

"Thatís just one example of the absurd nature of this decision," Marvel said.

The temporary closures, totaling 23,500 acres, include some areas specified in the draft plan in March for permanent closures.

Areas retained for permanent closure total 27,620 acres.

In an interview two weeks ago, Cooper said senior Forest Service officials and Idaho congressional representatives gave the East Fork environmental review unprecedented attention. The final decision was not hers alone, she said.

There was a "heightened level of interest internal to the Forest Service on this decision, and many people helped work on the decision," she said. "Certainly the Idaho delegation is concerned about maintaining ranching within the state of Idaho, and theyíre willing to express that concern to leaders in the agency.

"Iíve been criticized quite a bit about placing the value of the health of natural resources beyond other values," she added.

For his part, Marvel said thereís nothing illegal about Idahoís congressional representatives putting pressure on the Forest Service to procure a decision of a particular nature.

"We expect it," he said. "What we donít expect is for our representatives to waste our money in this absurd way. They should be asked why we should support ranching at this type of cost."

Marvel also pointed out that the majority of the publicís input on the draft environmental study was essentially ignored. Copies of comments Western Watersheds obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request indicated that 130 of 219 written comments supported the termination of livestock grazing in the East Fork through a phase-out. Another 17 supported ranching, and 65 supported curtailed grazing.

"So public comment is being overridden by political intervention," Marvel said. "The public wants this land to be managed for wildlife and for recreation.

"I think itís inevitable that grazing will be eliminated in that area, and I think weíd like to see it sooner rather than later."

 

Homefinder

City of Ketchum

Formula Sports

Windermere

Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.